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Big League Stew

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale: The most famous athlete from Florida Gulf Coast University

Big League Stew

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(AP, FGCU)

Florida Gulf Coast University is the talk of the college basketball world today, the Cinderella team that did something no team had ever done — make it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed.

The nation is getting an education on FGCU these days, like how students literally live on the beach and how the basketball coach has a model for a wife. Now one bit of trivia that baseball fans might enjoy. Do you know who is the most famous athlete to emerge from Florida Gulf Coast?

It's Chris Sale, the newly minted $32-million man for the Chicago White Sox, and the guy who will get the ball on opening day for the ChiSox. He was also a first-round draft pick out of FGCU, after an 11-0 season there in 2010. Last season was Sale's breakthrough in the big leagues, going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA.

After Florida Gulf Coast's first-round upset, he shared his excitement. This from the Naples News:

"I had nothing to do with it, obviously, but it just feels good. You come from a small school like that and everyone just kind of looks at us like a mid-week prep game. 'All right, we'll get our win mid-week and then we'll get ready for conference play.'

"I don't think that's the way it's going to be from here on out. As far as the program goes, the basketball team is doing what they're doing, the women's basketball team has been lights out since day one, and the baseball guys are making some noise over there too, cracking the Top 25 and really getting after it. So it's fun to see what special things are going on there."

In fact, the basketball team's run reminded Sale of what his FGCU coach used to tell the baseball team:

"We don't have too many people in our corner. We had to believe in ourselves, and those guys believe in themselves. When I was there, our baseball coach said, 'We might not be the best team on paper but we're going to work harder than everybody else and we're going to want it more.' In sports, that's all it takes. They showed their fight and it was awesome. It was fun to watch."

Here's a fun wrinkle: Sale's teammate and fellow pitcher Addison Reed went to San Diego State, which FGCU knocked off Sunday. Earlier in the week, Sale hinted that Reed might soon owe him a dinner.

Seafood sounds like a good fit.

Are you ready for opening day?
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